in movies interest me very much. Last night I watched one of my top three favorite Disney movies, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” paying particular attention to the hats, dresses, and furniture. First there are some wonderful early grand prix scenes—1907, 1908—with lots of droopy hats and driving goggles, and then the story begins, at a leisurely pace. With the notable exception of Dick Van Dyke, who plays the resilient inventor Caraticus Potts, this is the most British Disney movie ever made. All the other actors, the landscapes, Grandpa’s pith helmet, and especially the little towhead Anglo-Saxon children, Jeremy and Jemima, are quintessentially British. The story was written by Ian Fleming (who also created the Anglo phenomenon James Bond, 007) and the screen adaptation was done by Roald Dahl; these are two of the most creative Brits I know.
Sally Ann Howes is Truly Scrumptious, the female protagonist. She sounds uncannily like Julie Andrews, but her form is a bit more volumptous. Her curves are rather hidden under many layers of Eduardian gowns, but she sensibly hitches them up to wade in the ocean. I love her Art Noveau hats, which tie under the chin; they’re like tables laden with flowers and fruits balanced on her head. The first one she wears is the most grandiose; it’s got layers of fabric glued on an unflattering base—this hat looks like a bundt cake and probably weighs ten pounds.
And then, the motor cars, also central characters to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang;” early British cars (oh, all early cars) have such personalities. The shapes are clunky and bold, the headlights look just like eyes. From what little I know of Eduardian England, clunky bold autos apparently blasted their way across the countryside, spawning a network of petrol stations and cafes for day-trippers. The BBC recently did a slideshow of some of these early (and now abandoned) watering holes; forgive me for not finding the link, have been typing for a few hours now on freelance work.
No real way to tie this off, except to announce I’m going to watch this bubblegum musical again tonight, in hopes that by further studying the scenery, the songs will finally get out of my head.